As more and more hospitals look to adopt DoseWatch* to manage their dose levels, this emphasizes a growing acceptance by healthcare providers that points to GE Healthcare’s radiation management solution as an optimum means to reduce patient exposure to radiation doses during imaging procedures.
As early adopters of DoseWatch’s dose management capabilities, Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall, Michigan and Cullman Regional Medical Center in Alabama join over 180+ healthcare providers in the U.S. and Europe in ensuring patient welfare is optimized as they undergo medical imaging procedures as part of their treatment.
The clinical benefits gained by using radiation during procedures such as computed tomography (CT) is tempered by the fact that the typical organ doses from CT can be higher than those from other radiology procedures that utilize ionizing radiation.
Although, according to the U.S. National Council of Radiation Protection & Measurements Report #160 shows that CT accounts for slightly less than 50% of all diagnostic radiation.
This increase in dosage exposure has led to a recent change of direction within the medical device industry which has led to a series of measures designed to develop, implement, and adhere to a low-dose imaging program.
These measures help ensure that patients can receive the medical benefits of CT, Interventional and X-Ray technology while minimizing potential risks associated with radiation dose.
On July 1, 2012, the CDPH implemented new regulations that require healthcare providers to track, record and report dose information for all computed tomography exams in the radiology report and the patient’s medical record.
The new regulations also require timely reporting of an dose incidents and accreditation of all CT sites, this last requirement effective as of July 1, 2013.
Many large Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs) in states like New York, Florida, and Tennessee began constructing radiation safety programs prior to the mandate.
And a mandate by the Texas Department of State Health Service (TDSHS) became effective May 2013, stating that all healthcare providers using fluoroscopy and computed tomography imaging services must have a radiation dose program in place.
There has been a big evolution of radiation dose monitoring solutions which has placed GE Healthcare as one of its latest innovators.
As part of an $800 million investment in low-dose technologies over 15 years, GE introduced DoseWatch in 2011 with capabilities that allowed capturing of standardized dose information on CT, interventional, mammography and X-ray systems from a range of equipment vendors.
DoseWatch’s seamless integration with other vendors also meant it was able to support MITA’s Dose Check initiative, the Society of Pediatric Radiologys’ Image Wisely® and ACR/RSNAs’Image Gently®.
Such a program aligns with American College of Radiology recommendations, which call for “education for all stakeholders in the principles of radiation safety [and] the appropriate utilization of imaging to minimize any associated radiation risk,” among other measures1 such as a robust quality assurance program.
The growing clinical adoption of DoseWatch in the U.S. and internationally is outlined in the GE Blueprint** for lower dose –an initiative that includes a commitment to help leading U.S. hospitals further reduce patient exposure to radiation doses in imaging procedures.
Here, GE Healthcare would work with Oaklawn Hospital and Cullman Regional Medical Center in building a strategic roadmap for a comprehensive radiation dose management strategy.
Whatever the setting, the complexity of implementing this goal increases when the healthcare provider has a mix of equipment and technologies, different protocols to manage and a broad group of users who may have differing levels of knowledge.
However, this challenge is addressed with a comprehensive dose management, education and quality assurance strategy using tools and methods currently available.
Oaklawn’s installation saw DoseWatch directly connected to its GE LightSpeed VCT CT scanner to capture the data from each exam.
The reporting and analysis functionality of DoseWatch enabled staff to easily review protocols and improve training.
Likewise Cullman Regional Medical Center took on a similar installation strategy in which DoseWatch was connected to the hospital’s GE LightSpeed VCT CT scanner , GE BrightSpeed CT scanner, and GE Senographe DS Mammography scanner.
Over a five-month period the Cullman Regional Medical Center was able to reduce the number of radiation exposure events that exceeded the threshold established by 54 percent.
The implementation of DoseWatch also had a significant impact on the training and education of the hospital’s CT technicians. One example saw staff receiving an email alert whenever a threshold was exceeded.
DoseWatch enabled staff to further understand dose management and patient safety and further reinforced the need to educate hospital staff.
The Blueprint also details the efforts GE Healthcare is making to integrate dose alert technology on new and existing GE CT systems.
On a larger scale this is one example of the Industrial Internet—a term coined by GE that refers to the integration of complex physical machinery with networked sensors and software.
The Industrial Internet draws together fields such as machine learning, big data, the Internet of things and machine-to-machine communication to ingest data from machines, analyze it (often in real-time), and use it to adjust operations.
Oaklawn Hospital, Cullman Regional Medical Center and all the other healthcare providers that have adopted DoseWatch represent examples of the Industrial Internet solutions already in action.
By collecting this data in different ways – by imaging device, by the individual operator or by protocol, one can compare and contrast the dose being administered in one exam to another from the past, eliminating the inefficiencies and optimizing and personalizing dosage requirements for each individual.
*Trademark of General Electric Company
** GE Blueprint’s goal is to work with healthcare providers to reduce their average patient exposure by up to 50 percent, based on longitudinal tracking of average dose. The dose reduction goal is the result of a comprehensive program covering a full array of dose reduction principles. It is not solely based on equipment features. Individual site achievement will vary and any percentage reduction is dependent on the initial baseline for that site. In all cases diagnostic image quality must be maintained.
1. Amis Jr ES et al. American College of Radiology White Paper on Radiation Dose in Medicine. J Am
Coll Radiol 4: 272-284 (2007).